The complete text of “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” delivered on board pages.
The poem is as jaunty as ever, but it’s not natural fare for board-book readers due to its length. On average, three stanzas appear per double-page spread; they are set mostly in white type that floats over the dark, nighttime scenes. Cutting’s modeled, cartoony art is an uneven mix. Some images, such as St. Nick’s face and beard, are quite detailed—indeed, his wrinkles and smile are often eerily unchanging from page to page, suggesting a cut-and-paste job—but both the first-person narrator of the poem and the reindeer appear blurry. Many of the scenes feel too crowded for the format, especially the double-page spread showing and naming the eight reindeer, who are sandwiched together in a foreshortened string, making them difficult to identify and count. At times the art defies logic—readers will wonder why this family would leave candles burning on their Christmas tree after they had gone to bed. At other times, it does not completely reflect the text; Santa looks a little too clean after he comes down the chimney despite the text’s explicit “ashes and soot.” Human characters all present white.
An overcrowded, uneven package. (Board book. 3-5)